BOSTON -- There's a little fight left in the Boston Red Sox, after all.
Bill Mueller hit a two-run homer off Mariano Rivera to cap a three-run ninth inning and lead the Red Sox to an 11-10 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday. The shot brought the Red Sox pouring out of their dugout for the second time -- the first was during a bench-clearing brawl when the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the third.
"It just shows you how much both teams were hyped up," said Rodriguez, among four players ejected and forced to watch from their clubhouses. "Once you're in the moment competing against a team you really don't like ... you can't really control your emotions."
The game, which started after a 54-minute delay, almost was postponed. The grounds crew wanted to call it off but Boston players argued for it to go on despite wet grounds -- some Yankees, told the game wouldn't be played, had already showered.
"The Red Sox wanted to play today," Millar said.
And it turned into another Red Sox-Yankees thriller.
"I'm very, very proud of what our players did today," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "We've been waiting to have this feeling all year."
With Boston trailing 10-8, Nomar Garciaparra doubled to lead off the ninth, Trot Nixon hit a long out to the warning track and Millar, who homered three times on Friday, singled to score Garciaparra. Mueller homered into the bullpen -- just the second homer this year off Rivera, who had converted 23 consecutive save chances.
"I was biting my nails the whole time," said Boston catcher Jason Varitek, who sparked the brawl when he hit Rodriguez in the face. "It was the hardest game I've had to watch. I think my head almost hit the ceiling in the locker room. It was awesome."
The Red Sox, who also brawled with the Yankees during last year's playoffs, were two outs from falling 10½ games behind New York in the AL East; they have never come back from more than 10 games to win the division.
Who is to blame for Saturday's brawl at Fenway Park?
Everybody on the Yankees
Everybody on the Red Sox
Total Votes: 4,732
Instead, Boston is 8½ games back heading into Sunday night's series finale, fighting with Chicago and Oakland for the wild-card lead.
"Our rivalry is probably -- not probably, it is -- like no other rivalry," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It's an emotional game. You'd like to believe you can play like a board game, but you can't. There are people involved. There are emotions. It's a high-energy situation."
The Red Sox were trailing 3-0 and hitless before Bronson Arroyo plunked Rodriguez, prompting the AL MVP to stare at the mound as he moved slowly toward first. Varitek positioned himself in front of Rodriguez and the two began jawing before Varitek, still wearing his mask, pushed the Yankees star in the face.
The dugouts and bullpens emptied.
"I told him, in choice words, to get to first base," Varitek said. "And then it changed from him yelling at Bronson to yelling at each other, and then things got out of hand."
"Two guys fighting. They're gone. ... We had to calm down the situation," plate umpire Bruce Froemming told a pool reporter. "Then my partners got together and we picked out the guys who were the most flagrant. There were other guys fighting, too. But we can't see everybody."
Boston manager Terry Francona was ejected in the fifth inning after arguing a call by second-base umpire Mike Winters on a force play at the bag.
Sturtze pitched the bottom of the third with blood on his shoulder from a cut under his left ear, but he left after the inning with a bruised right pinky; X-rays were negative.
Enrique Wilson went 2-for-3 with a two-run single in the sixth that made it 9-4.
New York took the lead in the second when Arroyo missed the bag while covering on a grounder to the second baseman. Jorge Posada singled to center and Matsui doubled into the left-center gap to score one; Posada scored on Tony Clark's groundout to make it 2-0.
The Red Sox, on the verge of dropping out of the division race, seemed to get a spark from the brawl. They opened the bottom half with Millar's single and Mueller's double before Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon hit run-scoring groundouts.
After Juan Padilla replaced Sturtze, Garciaparra singled in two runs to give Boston a 4-3 lead.
Matsui had a two-run double in the sixth, Miguel Cairo had a run-scoring single and Sheffield drew a bases-loaded walk as New York sent 12 batters to the plate. Boston sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom half, getting a sacrifice fly from Mueller, an RBI double from Bellhorn, an RBI single from Damon and a bases-loaded walk by Manny Ramirez.
- Boston acquired left-hander Terry Adams from Toronto for Double-A slugger John Hattig.
The Associated Press News Service
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